Submitted by the Southwest Division
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
We know that God never promised that life would be easy. Never in scripture do we see The Lord and creator of the universe communicating that if we accept and love Him that we would coast on easy street. Our logical brains know that to be true, but so often our emotional brains start to creep into the mindset of prosperity gospel and that if we love Jesus’ life should be exclusively full of blessings and sunshine and prizes.
When I was a teenager the first time I heard God communicate with me through scripture was in reading from the beginning of Romans 5 that I should “rejoice in my suffering because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope”. Context matters, and in this context in my life I was a 15-year-old kid in foster care and my birth mother- the only family I had- had just kicked me out of the house. I’m sitting on the bed of my group home; I turn to this passage of scripture, and this is what I read.
My 15-year-old brain thought that if God was real, he was either a jerk or a joke. If he could see me, know me, love me, and want the best for me- why would He point to this passage? I am thankful that God is so good. That He knows just what we need in the dark night of the soul, even if it’s drastically different than what we might think we need.
The Lord was telling me that my struggle was not just mine, and that I wasn’t the only one with struggle. That God can use our grief, and pain, and suffering for His glory; but for that to happen we have a part to play in addressing the struggle. We can’t ignore it. We must look our grief and pain dead in the eyes and say, “I belong to the Lord. You are real, and you hurt, but you do not define me, and you cannot separate me from my creator”.
We can’t just “pray it away”. We might need to talk to a trusted person or go to a professional counselor. We must be honest about the struggle, move through it, and on the other side we will find healing, a strengthened character, perseverance we didn’t have before, and a hope that God really is who He says he is. That is a promise we can hold tight to. I’m glad that God showed me that truth in my adolescents because it has shaped my whole life. It’s not too late to claim that truth in your life as well.
Questions for reflection:
- What are some things in your life that cause grief, pain or sadness?
- How does the Lord fit in those tough seasons?
- What do we need to do to partner with Jesus in the healing and restoration of those things?
- How can we use those situations to be a support to the body of Christ?
Jesus never tells us that we will be without struggle or grief, but He does say that He will be with us in the storm. With Jesus, life will for sure still be hard, but we will never ever be alone again.